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The Economy Grew Just 1.6 Percent Last Year: Slowest Pace Since 2011

The U.S. economy slumped to its slowest growth pace in five years, according to Commerce Department figures for 2016.

The nation's gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of just 1.9 percent in the October-December period, a slowdown from 3.5 percent growth in the third quarter.

Image: Pipe Manufacturing Factory In Marietta, Ohio
An employee works on building pipe at Pioneer Pipe on October 25, 2016 in Marietta, Ohio. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

For 2016, the economy grew 1.6 percent. It was the worst showing since 2011 and down from 2.6 percent growth in 2015.

The cutbacks in business investment along with efforts by companies to reduce an overhang of unwanted inventories were major reasons growth slowed in 2016.

Economists are forecasting a better performance in 2017, with many raising their forecasts to incorporate the potential impact of President Donald Trump's ambitious stimulus program featuring tax cuts, deregulation and higher infrastructure spending.

Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State's Martin Smith School of Business, said there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment about Trump's program since the new administration has yet to put forward its plan for Congress to consider.

"At the moment, we don't know the size, the scale and the timing of the Trump program," Sohn said. "But it is very possible that we will get a significant boost to economic growth in the second half of next year if Trump is successful getting his program through Congress."